By Ed Waldheim, F42831
In 1972 the Sportscoach Owners International (S.O.I.) chapter was formed to bring together owners of motorhomes made by Sportscoach Corporation of America. It was the beginning of an incredible journey for motorhome owners at that time.
Back then, a Time magazine ad for Sportscoach stated, “It costs you $25,000 to join this exclusive club, and for that we will throw in a Sportscoach for you.” That caught my attention. I have been a Sportscoach owner ever since.
When the Sportscoach Corporation of America sold its motorhome business to Coachmen Industries in 1978, the chapter’s focus began to change, as did our name, becoming the S.O.I. Motorhome Club. Sportscoach continued on, but in name only. Original Sportscoach motorhomes are rare today, and we are no longer a product-focused club.
Instead, we’ve become a social and travel chapter. We literally have traveled the world, from Europe “” including Spain and Portugal “” to South America, Australia, and New Zealand. During our overseas travels, sometimes we have rented motorhomes, and other times we have taken the easy way out and toured by bus, taken an ocean cruise, or even gone by riverboat, as we did in Russia. We always have had fun.
My favorite trip was to Australia and New Zealand. Twenty couples participated in this 45-day trip. We try to have one overseas trip a year. Most recently (in February 2006) 20 coaches traveled through Mexico from border to border, even going through Mexico City.
We set up all the activities and tours ourselves. Of the journeys we’ve taken, many have been planned and organized by chapter vice president Scott Brady, F19147. Trips are set up depending on where people in the chapter wish to go. Over the years chapter members have gone to Alaska several times. Once, while traveling with Creative World Rallies & Caravans Inc., C1350, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, we saw Charles, Prince of Wales. He was a guest at the Stampede, and as he came by he tipped his hat to us.
We also rally at locations within the United States. Within our chapter are seven smaller, active groups that help organize rallies in their respective geographical locations. Currently there are 68 member families in the S.O.I. chapter, and they hail from across the country.
We held our 25th Rose Parade rally in Pasadena, California, this past New Year’s weekend. The Tournament of Roses Parade is always a big event for us. We have parking room for 200 motorhomes and 400 tickets to the best show on earth. We camp at Santa Anita racetrack and take buses to all the different events.
Another annual event for us is the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee in Sacramento, California, held each year over Memorial Day weekend. This year’s rally will take place May 25 through 30.
We held a national rally in Madera, North Dakota, last August after the FMCA convention in Minot. After last May’s Sacramento jazz fest, we were off to see Death Valley National Park, and then to Calico Ghost Town. We called this our “Hop, Skip, and Jump Rally.”
This past March we held our 34th annual rally at Pachenga RV Resort in Temecula, California, after the Pomona convention. Other rallies slated for 2006 include Tennessee in April; Colorado in May; Michigan in June; Wyoming for the Fourth of July weekend (in conjunction with FMCA’s International Area Rally); North Dakota in August; and Indiana in September.
For a listing of all of our 2006 events, visit our Web site, www.soiclub.com. All FMCA members are welcome to join us at our rallies.
Our chapter membership fee is nominal: $25 for the first year and $20 every year thereafter. We put out a newsletter three times a year and special mailings when needed. And remember “” you don’t have to own a Sportscoach to join.
Our current officers are myself, Ed Waldheim, president; Scott Brady, vice president; Linda Waldheim, secretary/treasurer; and Calvin Landreth, F98169, national director.
As the chapter enters its 35th year, I have to say that this has been one of the most incredible chapters to belong to for so many years, especially when we travel and do so much within a reasonable cost. We are excited about our club and invite everyone to join us.
For more information about the chapter, contact the Chapter Services Department at the FMCA national office at (800) 543-3622.